Bobby Mon­tague and his goat mouth

Jamaica Gleaner - - OPINION & COMMENTARY - Mark Wig­nall is an an­a­lyst. Email feed­back to col­umns@glean­ ad ob­serve­

THE THURS­DAY be­fore the US pres­i­den­tial elec­tions, I was by a gully-bank com­mu­nity off Red Hills Road and I was on the phone with Bobby Mon­tague.

Mr Mon­tague wears many hats, but he is best known as Ja­maica’s national se­cu­rity min­is­ter. He is also JLP MP for West­ern St Mary and chair­man of the JLP.

It may not be known by many but Mon­tague knows pol­i­tics inside out and he un­der­stands how peo­ple re­spond to political mes­sages. Most im­por­tant, he knows his con­stituents and how political strat­egy plays out at elec­tion cam­paign time.

I was on the phone with him to get his un­var­nished views on the US elec­tions. “I know the JLP is his­tor­i­cally al­lied to the Repub­li­can Party in the US, so I would much pre­fer if your opin­ions are not coloured by that. Who do you be­lieve will win the pres­i­dency?” I asked. “Trump is go­ing to win.” “Bobby, please tell me this is a joke,” I said.

“Let me ex­plain. First of all, when I told you late last year and in Jan­uary that the JLP would win the elec­tions, you did not be­lieve me, but I un­der­stand. You were go­ing by the polls. But let me ex­plain why Trump will win.

“Af­ter the 2012 loss, the Repub­li­can Party knew that if it con­tin­ued on a busi­ness-asusual ap­proach, espe­cially when mi­nori­ties were not ex­actly flock­ing to it and the de­mo­graph­ics were against it, it had to change course. So what it did was send huge teams of peo­ple out into the ru­ral ar­eas to reg­is­ter the ru­ral white vote and keep them con­stantly en­er­gised.

“All of this was done un­der the radar and the Democrats were ap­par­ently un­aware of it. I don’t want to com­ment too much on the Repub­li­can can­di­date be­cause, well, we have had bet­ter ones in the past.

“If you no­ticed, Trump had many meet­ings in these ru­ral ar­eas of the bat­tle­ground states and on his way back, had a big one in the big city near­est.”

“But his mes­sage. Bring­ing back jobs –”

“That is res­onat­ing with them be­cause all the good jobs are in the en­vi­rons of the city or glob­al­i­sa­tion has taken the over­seas. A ru­ral man in his late 50s with not much ed­u­ca­tion who saw his good-pay­ing job in a car as­sem­bly plant move over­seas or his coal min­ing job dis­ap­pear is see­ing for­eign­ers, im­mi­grants and the ‘es­tab­lish­ment’ as the tar­get of his dis­gust. His ed­u­cated child has moved to the city, got a de­cent-pay­ing job but he is stuck in his ru­ral set­ting. He is an­gry and tai­lor-made for Trump. Yes, he is go­ing to win.”


Lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions are to be held on Novem­ber 28 and, if Bobby Mon­tague’s goat mouth holds true, the JLP will in­deed win.

Last Wed­nes­day when we spoke, Mr Mon­tague was sound­ing up­beat. “The JLP ad­min­is­tra­tion is still young and the peo­ple of this coun­try know that the change to ef­fec­tive gov­ern­ment at the lo­cal level takes time. In terms of ac­tual work on the ground, I think you are aware of what Chris (Tufton) has been do­ing in the anti-Zika V fight. In em­ploy­ing young peo­ple to go into homes to tackle mos­quito breed­ing sites I think that has been pay­ing div­i­dends.”

“Bobby, a lot of peo­ple see lo­cal gov­ern­ment as this other layer of gov­ern­ment which is there for the main pur­pose of pro­vid­ing a feed­ing tree for par­ti­sans.”

“I am glad you men­tioned that. Ask your­self which of the political par­ties has the most con­trac­tors who some­how con­ve­niently run for parish coun­cil seats? Do your checks. We the JLP did not cre­ate the prob­lems in South East St Ann and in the Hanover parish coun­cils. The peo­ple have seen these things hap­pen­ing, and come Novem­ber 28 they will be do­ing the sen­si­ble thing .”

“I have con­tacts in the PNP and they tell me that the PNP is much bet­ter or­gan­ised than it was in the few months fol­low­ing the Fe­bru­ary 25 loss. They say a PNP win, a shocker is there wait­ing for your party.”

“You know I have al­ways been frank with you,” said the JLP chair­man. “There is an­other re­al­ity that you have prob­a­bly not yet con­sid­ered. When the gov­ern­ment is in the hands of one party and the parish coun­cil is in the hands of the other party it al­ways seems to erupt in chaos. Noth­ing gets done.

“Ja­maican peo­ple are much more ed­u­cated and sen­si­ble than 30, 40 years ago. They know that the JLP just won the elec­tions, and the way they see it, it makes no sense to hand power to the PNP in the parish coun­cils when its house is still not in or­der.”


One of the re­ally crazy bits of stats that came out in the wash af­ter the US elec­tions is the fact that 53 per cent of white women voted for Trump. In other words, there was no ‘sis­ter-to­sis­ter’ sup­port vote. No sur­prise that he got 63 per cent of the white male vote, but what could ex­plain 13% of the black male vote go­ing to Trump.

“I would never rule out a sex­ist vote,” said Natasha, a 35year-old Ja­maican-Amer­i­can liv­ing in Brook­lyn. “I was em­bar­rassed to see some of our black men say­ing that Trump’s Hol­ly­wood Ac­cess hot mic mo­ment made them more at­tracted to him.”

I can re­mem­ber back in 2006 when Por­tia Simp­son Miller was in the PNP pres­i­den­tial race, one very well-known PNP politi­cian with mid-is­land con­nec­tions say­ing to me, “Who? Me? No woman can rule me!”

Of course, it will take the political an­a­lysts and espe­cially what one writer called ‘political pathol­o­gists’ to fig­ure out ex­actly what went wrong from healthy polls for Clin­ton to her ma­jor losses in her blue states.

Forty-year-old Deirdre runs a lu­cra­tive hair sa­lon in up­town Ja­maica. She has US cit­i­zen­ship and voted for Clin­ton. “I have not heard many peo­ple talk­ing about this, but the way I see it, white Amer­ica de­cided on Novem­ber 8 to avenge the Obama wins in 2008 and 2012. Re­mem­ber in the Tea Party wave in 2010, the words were all about ‘tak­ing our coun­try back’.

“When Trump came up with ‘Make Amer­ica Great Again’, it sim­ply meshed with that 2010 mes­sage. Plac­ing Amer­ica back in white hands.”


When I asked her if she saw sex­ism as a fac­tor, she laughed out loud. “Sex­ism is a fac­tor ev­ery day of a woman’s life. I be­lieve the old boys’ club won.”

Iyana is a Ja­maican study­ing at a univer­sity in Midwest Amer­ica. The 20-year-old Im­mac­u­late Con­cep­tion old girl said, “Congress and the Sen­ate, in real terms, hold the levers of power. The pres­i­dent doesn’t mat­ter much. They have not yet de­stroyed Amer­ica, and I don’t be­lieve that the halfwit Trump is go­ing to do much dam­age ei­ther.”

She had some firm ad­vice for the Ja­maican-Amer­i­cans bleat­ing over the Clin­ton loss. “Ja­maicans, stop wor­ry­ing about Trump about to de­stroy Amer­ica so you can’t live there any­more, and fo­cus on try­ing to im­prove our own more messed-up coun­try that you ran away from to be­gin with. I har­bour, too, much dis­ap­point­ment and anger at Ja­maica to waste it on Amer­ica.

“We need to chan­nel this en­ergy into build­ing Ja­maica in­stead of try­ing to fig­ure out if men didn’t like Clin­ton or her sis­ters aban­doned her. In many ways, it’s still a man’s world, but we women al­low that, so when crap is bro­ken, we can’t blame them.”

A whop­ping 33 per cent of Latino men and 26 per cent of Lati­nas voted for Trump. Yes, there is a real need for a patho­log­i­cal anal­y­sis of that elec­tion.


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